"It was terrible because they had DCF, three cops here, and then I see the ambulance coming and all that," said Denise Griffin, a neighbor. "Hey if you're going to live like that you can't raise a child like that. No way."
On September 9, the city of Middletown school truancy officer went to check on a Wesley Elementary School child because he wasn't showing up for school. The truancy officer knocked on the front door, which was opened. Through the open door, the truancy officer spotted a woman on the floor wrapped in a blanket.
Middletown Police were called in to back up the truancy officer, and entered the home after seeing the intoxicated woman on the floor and believing a child was inside. The woman, who is the child's mother and was later identified as Arlene Poole when she was arrested, had sluggish speech and couldn't properly communicate with officers, police said.
Officers found 10 to 15 empty and half-empty alcohol bottles littering the floor of the home, along with soiled diapers, trash and spoiled food. Later on they found clear empty bags that appeared to have had narcotics inside. They called in a police supervisor to assist.
After announcing their presence, a man came out of a bedroom on the second floor. He was later identified as Richard Poole, who is the boy's father. After police asked where the child was, he entered a bedroom, closed the door, and then emerged with the 7-year-old boy.
Officers said he was rail-thin and looked malnourished, and he had a bandage on his forehead, dark circles under his eyes, and a completely filled diaper, which was the only thing he was wearing. The bedroom the boy was found in had several alcohol bottles and narcotics inside.
Richard Poole identified the child as his son and said he was autistic and wouldn't speak to police. Richard Poole didn't respond when asked why the child was only wearing a full diaper, police said.
When Richard Poole was further asked why his child wasn't attending school, he said he didn't like the school the child was attending in town.
The officers assessed the situation and called in the Special Investigations Unit, as well as an ambulance to bring the child and Arlene Poole to the hospital for evaluation. Police also made a report to the Department of Children and Families, and a social worker responded.
Both parents were charged with risk of injury to a minor.
"If a child doesn't show up then we need somebody to go and check if the child is safe," said Dr. Patricia Charles, superintendent of Middletown's Public Schools. "If the child is there, we need to get that child to school and sometimes parents need help."